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Pediatric Heart Disease in Developing CountriesPediatric heart disease is seen throughout the world and causes grave sickness in children. It is often complicated and hard to treat. With poverty and lacking resources, pediatric heart disease in developing countries becomes nearly impossible to manage.

It is difficult to determine how many children have heart disease because of lacking global data. Figures are generally surmised from industrialized nations. Since better diagnostics were implemented, experts estimate that 8-12 per 1,000 live births have heart disease. Children can also develop heart disease from heart rhythm disorders and infections (among other things).

Children with heart disease have very complicated health situations. Those born with a heart defect may have other birth defects. And as treatment improves and children live longer, they develop secondary diseases such as kidney failure.

Their situation is worsened by a lack of knowledge in developing countries. There is a common misconception that children do not develop heart disease. Parents may not recognize the serious symptoms, and as a result, children are often diagnosed later in life when treatment is harder and more expensive. Medical professionals do not always recognize heart disease in children, leading to misdiagnosis.

Worldwide, heart disease is expensive to treat. In the U.S. in 2009 the hospital cost of treating heart failure in children was thought to be $1 billion. This figure does not include outpatient visits, medications, treating secondary conditions, transportation and parents’ lost work.

Funding treatment of pediatric heart disease in developing countries is challenging. There is a lack of data to guide medical policy and infrastructure and the disease is likely under-reported. When poor countries decide how to best spend small healthcare budgets, it seems plausible to focus on more prevalent conditions that are cheaper to prevent, such as infection.

Providing adequate cardiac care requires significant resources. For simple heart surgeries, sterile consumables (such as drapes) are needed, as well as sophisticated equipment and trained personnel. More complex heart conditions may require more advanced equipment and highly educated providers.

Many children with heart disease in developing countries have surgically curable defects. Yet, because of costs, these children receive simpler “quick fix” surgeries. Another issue that developing countries have with providing acceptable heart surgeries is they often struggle with clean water and electricity, which are crucial in running any hospital.

Fortunately, many organizations see the struggle of treating pediatric heart disease in developing countries. In 2015, there was a survey of NGOs that provide care for this population. The survey lists more than 80 NGOs.

Some of these organizations perform mission trips to developing countries, where they perform heart surgeries in the local hospitals. Others bring children into industrialized nations for surgery and take them back after recovery. In some instances, organizations have worked with the country and local healthcare providers to build lasting cardiology programs that can serve the country more permanently.

Pediatric heart disease is a complicated condition. While seen throughout the world, it has a greater impact in developing nations because of higher birth rates. This does not mean it is not treatable. With great investment from NGOs and governments, children in developing countries can have the same outcomes as those in industrialized nations.

Mary Katherine Crowley

Photo: Flickr

Dubai CaresIn September 2017, philanthropic organization Dubai Cares celebrated their tenth anniversary. The global nonprofit was founded by Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Its mission is to provide education to citizens from countries where educational opportunities are sparse.

Currently, Dubai Cares has facilitated educational programs in 45 countries. According to The National, this has had a positive effect on 16 million youths. The organization has also partnered with other global organizations, like UNICEF, CARE International and the World Food Programme. Along with these, Dubai Cares has joined with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other nongovernmental organizations to influence the global community’s commitment toward better educational practices.

When the charity was first formed, it focused on funding educational programs created by others. After hiring Chief Executive Al Gurg, Dubai Cares began constructing their own solutions.

Dubai Cares operates under the belief that education is a fundamental right that should be available to everyone regardless of race, gender or religion. Lack of education is one of the biggest causes of global poverty. The organization is particularly interested in promoting education for girls around the world, 62 million of whom are not in school.

Over the past 10 years, Dubai Cares has built or renovated over 2,000 classrooms and trained nearly 64,000 teachers. The organization acknowledges, however, that there are many things that affect education beyond the schools or quality of education.

One of these issues involves health-related problems, including malnutrition and disease. To combat these, Dubai Cares has invested in providing healthy food, clean water and effective hygienic practices to students. Another issue that severely affects education is military conflict within the country. One recent philanthropic mission the organization undertook involved educating children dealing with national violence in Columbia.

The continued successes of Dubai Cares have cemented it as a pinnacle in the fight for global education.

Cortney Rowe

Photo: Flickr

Art Therapy for Syrian Refugees
Non-governmental organizations around the world have been using art therapy for Syrian refugees as a way to deal with trauma.

One of the non-governmental organizations using art therapy for Syrian refugees is Global Humanitaria, based in Spain. According to HuffPost, the organization has partnered with Bader Medical Center in Jordan to help Syrian refugees create artwork. These art pieces will be displayed in Madrid and Barcelona and sold online. The proceeds from these will support the artists.

More than the monetary value, art therapy helps Syrian refugees express the horrors that they have experienced in Syria. According to Al Jazeera, many of the Syrian children are too young to verbalize what they went through. Others are too traumatized to talk about the things that they have seen. Art therapy for Syrian refugees gives children a nonverbal way to work through their thoughts.

Many Syrian children draw things that they have witnessed. These things often include bombs, severed limbs and tanks. Other children draw happier pictures to signify a happier outlook.

Art therapy for Syrian refugees also gives the refugee children an opportunity to talk about their trauma on their own terms. According to Al Jazeera, Syrian children often become belligerent or withdrawn when asked about the situations that they have faced. Art helps them process these experiences.

Syrian refugees experience many of difficulties beyond escaping from the country. Several of the children at the Bader Medical Center have lost limbs, for example. Others must deal with a lack of education, employment and permanent housing.

In spite of the benefits of art therapy for Syrian refugees, there is not much of funding for it. Al Jazeera discusses how little non-governmental organizations receive for art therapy. A lack of funds leads to not having enough patient time to make a long-lasting improvement.

This being said, even short-term art therapy for Syrian refugees has had a positive influence on the refugees exposed to it.

Cortney Rowe

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in the Central African Republic

Approximately 663 million people live without access to clean water. Many nongovernment organizations (NGOs) are dedicated to improving water quality and building wells in poverty-stricken areas. However, the ad hoc building of wells does not solve the problem of water poverty and sanitation. Wells can and do break down and someone must fix them, but at this point, most water charities have left the community a long time ago. The key to ending water poverty, which will in turn bring more people out of extreme poverty, is water sustainability. This is where Water for Good – an organization working in the Central African Republic (CAR) – comes in.

A Plan for Water Sustainability

Founded in 2004, Water for Good works to bring water sustainability and improve water quality in the CAR. It is now the largest water provider in the country. Water for Good has drilled over 650 new water wells in the CAR and each well provides enough water for 500 people. The organization also maintains over 1000 water wells across the country and has rehabilitated more than 900 old and forgotten wells. While wells can last over a decade with routine maintenance, they will eventually need a major overhaul.

Water for Good plans to bring clean, safe water to every person in the CAR  by 2030. This is in step with the U.N.’s timeline for achieving the global Sustainable Development Goals. The nation has a population of only 4.7 million people; however, with a large geographic size and a history of internal conflict, improving water quality in the CAR is a difficult task. Water for Good plans to partner with the U.N. and other charitable organizations to achieve this goal.

Local Companies

Doctor Richard Klopp – CEO of Water for Good – tells The Borgen Project that an important step toward water sustainability is transitioning the duties of maintenance and upkeep to private companies within the CAR. Water for Good currently has four maintenance crews that each take care of about 260 wells. The goal is to hand off all of those responsibilities to private, locally-owned companies. In fact, it has already started to happen.

Water for Good created a locally-owned company, Marcellin African Drilling (MAD), and then handed off all the operations to the owner, Marcellin Namsene. While MAD still partners with Water for Good on projects, it is a private, locally-owned business that can continue to upkeep the wells when Water for Good’s work is finished.

A Strategic Focus

Water for Good was originally founded by a former missionary named Jim Hocking, when a good friend sold him a well-drilling business if he agreed to run it as a nonprofit. Hocking had no experience with water wells or drilling, but was familiar with the issue of water quality in the CAR, having grown up in the country. Originally, the organization was named Integrated Community Development International and had several other aims besides water. It was also involved with HIV/AIDS work, orphan care and providing religious services. Eventually those other issues were jettisoned in order to focus on water sustainability. The organization now provides drilling, maintenance and runs a radio station which focuses on community development, sanitation and hygiene. While the CAR is a very low-infastructure country, most people have access to a radio.

“We realized what the country needs from an American NGO is water infrastructure built and sustained, ” says Klopp, “and so that’s all we do now.”

It is a strategic focus for a unique organization. Hopefully, the success of Water for Good inspires other organizations to realize what can be accomplished with long-term planning and a focus on sustainability.

Brock Hall
Photo: Flickr

Helping People in MexicoWhen people think about the country of Mexico, people reflect on some of its cultural features. These include the country’s food, music and clothing style. What people do not know about Mexico is that between the years of 2012 and 2014, the number of individuals living in conditions of poverty has increased by two million.

With this fact in mind, many people ask how to help people in Mexico. Due to the Mexican government spending many of its resources fighting the growing problem of cartels within its borders in conjunction to helping grow its economy, private solutions to poverty in Mexico appear to be much more adequate solutions to this issue.

This article highlights some NGOs that address to problem of how to help people in Mexico. Below are two NGOs that are currently doing this.

Children International

Drug violence and drug trafficking has transformed the cities of Mexico — essentially into war zones — and has taken hold of every section of the country’s state and national politics. The people most affected by the influence of the cartels in Mexico are the nation’s child populations. The NGO, Children International, is helping people in Mexico by focusing on the child populations living in the country’s cities.

Children International is helping people in Mexico by creating community centers which act as safe havens for the kids residing in this region. These centers contain books and computers for educational purposes, and toys to keep them entertained. On top of this, these centers also serve as a hub for child program activities that teach kids they can have a better life, and how to achieve that life.

One way to begin helping people in Mexico is to either donate to this NGO or to do volunteer work with their organization. Although volunteering is the most effective way of helping these people, any donation made makes a great difference.

Freedom From Hunger

Freedom From Hunger is an NGO that is helping people in Mexico by creating programs that aim to reduce the country’s food insecurity issue. Food insecurity gets defined as the inability to meet one’s basic nutritional needs for some or all of the year. On top of having 53 percent of the country living in poverty, and having 24 percent of the population living in extreme poverty, many people outside of these two groups struggle with food insecurity.

Freedom From Hunger is partnering up with local organizations in Mexico’s major cities and food banks. This partnership is being done to reach out to the needy in the country and give them access to a better food supply.

On top of this, Freedom From Hunger is helping people in Mexico by creating savings and loan programs for the people living under conditions of poverty. Although the incomes of these groups may be low, the issue of poverty only gets exacerbated when families fall further into debt or make poor financial decisions with what little money they do have.

Between helping the poor in Mexico deal with food insecurity and their economic issues, Freedom From Hunger is making great strides in fighting poverty in Mexico. In their first year, they reached out to 14,000 people in villages and cities where these services are needed. To support this group, and to begin helping the people in Mexico, volunteering one’s time or donating is a great way to start.

Private institutions are not always as efficient at making the substantive change needed to begin eliminating poverty, and at the current moment, the Mexican government is unable to make real change for its people dealing with poverty. With time and commitment, these organizations offer solutions for how to help people in Mexico and can continue to make the change needed in the country.

Nick Beauchamp

Photo: Flickr


The news of the ugly, modern warfare occurring in Syria is heartbreaking. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to the problem of Syria’s civil war. Despite obstacles, many agencies are doing their best to get humanitarian aid to civilians. In particular, USAID helps Syria by funding many organizations within the United Nations (U.N.), through non-government organizations (NGOs), and its own programs. Here are six specific groups that USAID helps fund:

  1. USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART)DART currently has teams deployed to Turkey and Jordan. They are on standby in case of a sudden and large-scale displacement of Syrian refugees, or for any other humanitarian needs caused by the conflict in Syria.
  2. USAID/Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)USAID/OFDA funds U.N. and NGO sponsored programs. This department has helped provide medical care to Syrians by helping the U.N.’s World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO has been able to evacuate patients out of conflict zones, as well as identify and vaccinate against a recent measles outbreak. USAID/OFDA also funded NGOs to train Syrian medical staff, provide medical supplies, and vaccinate against polio.
  3. The Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM)USAID is funding the U.N. World Food Program and U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, which have been able to report on food and crop security in Syria. The CFSAM report shows that less food is being produced in Syria. With this information, the U.N. is able to respond with appropriate food deliveries.
  4. The World Food Programme (WFP)USAID gave $79,812,417 to the WFP’s work in Syria during the 2016 fiscal year. This does not include the funding given to the WFP for use in neighboring countries. In January, the WFP delivered food to 3.6 million people in Syria. The WFP has also given food assistance to conflict-isolated people in the Jordan-Syrian border towns. Finally, the WFP has given more than 1.6 million Syrian refugees food vouchers on debit cards.
  5. The U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF)UNICEF is helping in Syria and in neighboring countries. Within Syria, UNICEF is bringing six million liters of water daily. This is estimated to help 400,000 people in the country. UNICEF is helping Syrian refugees as well. Last November and December, they provided $28 clothing vouchers for Syrian refugee children in Jordan to buy winter clothing. These vouchers were given to 128,430 Syrian children. UNICEF is also offering psychosocial support to Syrian refugee children in Turkey. In January, they helped 7,200 children. UNICEF is also helping refugees by providing social services.
  6. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)The U.N. organization, OCHA, received $3,000,000 from USAID in the 2016 fiscal year. As a result, OCHA has been able to present reports on the humanitarian crisis in Syria. As a result of this important work, the world now knows if humanitarian aid is able to get into Syria, citizens are impacted by aid disruptions and by the state of facilities and infrastructure throughout Syria.

While these examples are encouraging, Syria is still struggling to receive humanitarian aid being offered. In many cases, battles between the al-Assad regime and the rebel forces prevent aid workers from reaching citizens. In some cases, the Islamic State has deliberately blocked aid organizations from repairing infrastructure.

Yet, the world is persistent and continues to fund humanitarian aid to Syria. USAID helps Syria in even more ways than are listed here. Also, the USAID website implores people to donate to NGO’s working in Syria.

It’s dispiriting to watch what unfolds in Syria and hard to imagine how Americans can help. Another way we can help is to tell Congress to support the USAID budget. As few as seven calls from constituents have been known to impact the legislation that a congressman or senator supports.

Mary Katherine Crowley

Photo: Flickr

largest and fastest growing slums
Though the apartheid that bore Khayelitsha ended over 20 years ago, the damage has yet to depart. Cape Town was conceived for the sole purpose to house blacks in the white dominant country of South Africa, with protectant buffer zones of scrubland and valleys to separate Cape Town from the rest of the country. This made Cape Town one of the most populated cities in South Africa and Khayelitsha one of the most populated slums.

Though Khayelitsha was originally an apartheid dumping ground, as part of the “Group Areas Act” it is now one of the largest and fastest growing slums in South Africa. Khayelitsha is home to around 2.4 million individuals, 50 percent of which are under the age of 19.

Over the past ten years, the population has increased from 400,000 to 2.4 million. The unemployment rate for individuals living in Khayelitsha is 73 percent with 70 percent of its individuals living in shacks.

The severe poverty combined with a lack of community infrastructure has led the community to vast crime rates, gangs, violence and drug use, thus placing Khayelitsha as the murder capital of South Africa. Local police say they deal with an average of four murders every weekend.

Living conditions in Khayelitsha are less than pleasant, with the unfortunate 70 percent of individuals living in shacks made of timber and sheet metal. The shacks are built very close to one another making fires a constant problem due to how fast they spread and how often they occur. There are no street names in Khayelitsha, instead, the large area is divided into 26 districts, which are numbered by letters, with each shack having a different number.

Sanitation is another struggle for the individuals of Khayelitsha, often times their toilets leak into the streets, fermenting there for weeks. This sanitation issue causes many diseases and sicknesses within the community.

Lack of clean water and food is yet another hardship. An estimated one in three people have to walk 200 meters or more to access clean water. A limited food supply is sold between shacks, being constantly exposed to the sun and flies. Food sold between shacks is the only food option in Khayelitsha being that there are no supermarkets or stores of any kind.

Overcrowding has been another common problem in this ever-growing slum. Khayelitsha has a high population density and a low amount of resources to support the growing population. This, along with a lack of security makes theft and crime very easy.

In an interview, one Khayelitsha resident, Nomfusi Panyaza, explained what it is truly like to live in Khayelitsha. She explained that when it rains, the surrounding public toilets overflow into her living room with water coming through the ceiling. Panyaza lives in her small shack with six other family members and two beds to share among the seven of them.

Though Khayelitsha’s hardships are very much prevalent, certain NGOs are doing what they can to alleviate various hardships. Some of the outreach that has been made is through the Zhakele Clinic, which was opened in Khayelitsha for the population’s health care. Unfortunately, the need surpasses what this small clinic can do, but it is a starting point that can be expanded.

Secondly, the nutritional support initiative (NSI) encourages patients to come into the clinic by giving the patients a two-week supply of nutritionally enhanced maize meals called e’Pap. E’Pap is a pre-cooked porridge with soy protein fortified with 28 nutrients. Providing patients with e’Pap decreases the amount and severity of side effects to the medications that the patients are taking and improves their overall health by lessening their chances of malnutrition.

Thirdly, the NGO, TB/HIV Care, which started in 1929, aims to decrease the incidence of tuberculosis and HIV across all of South Africa. Their plan is to improve the current TB and HIV prevention and care by researching and monitoring the area, helping not only the current situation but also looking to better South Africa’s future.

Khayelitsha is certainly a vastly troubled place though it should not be considered a lost cause. With the combined efforts of determined people and organizations, both mentioned above, as well as others, one of the world’s largest and fastest growing slums can finally improve its situation.

Bella Chaffey

Photo: Flickr

Refugee NonprofitsWhile forced migration is a constant problem, advances in technology have changed the playing field, and aid organizations are struggling to keep up.

Today, refugees are using their smartphones for both practical uses and methods of comfort in a difficult situation. For efficient aid distribution, change in refugee behavior must be accompanied by a corresponding change in nongovernment organization (NGO) structure.

“Our phones and power banks are more important for our journey than anything, even more important than food,” a refugee from Syria, Wael, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency.

When Hassan, a 28-year-old teacher fleeing the Syrian civil war, found out his rubber dinghy was sinking in the middle of the Aegean Sea, he used WhatsApp to alert his friend in New York of his location. He was found by the Turkish Coast Guard 45 minutes later.

Hala, a refugee from Aleppo, uses her phone as the only means of contact left between her and her husband, who was kidnapped by ISIS prior to her departure.

“That’s why I’m always holding it. I’m holding on to it like I’m holding on to an address of my own, my family. This metal device has become my whole world,” said Hala to a Channel 4 film documentary crew.

Smartphones have become such vital tools that it is now standard practice for NGOs to distribute chargers in refugee camps.

Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber, Google Maps – they’re commonplace applications that have helped refugees quickly navigate their way to safety. Perhaps even a bit too quickly.

“You see their [NGOs] logos, but you don’t see them,” said Hassan.

International aid workers have struggled to keep up with the pace of migrants, often ditching the practice of establishing camps in favor of delivering aid to wherever refugees might happen to be.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) changed their policies in 2014, funding hackathons across Europe so app developers throughout Europe could create new tech-centric solutions to their problem.

These hackathons proved themselves instantly effective. Instead of relying on static means of distribution, new projects like Germany’s Refugees Welcome and Comme à la Maison (CALM) created a channel for refugees to find necessary contacts to help them wherever they may be.

In the future, huge aid organizations should back the winners of hackathons like Techfugees, which generates a variety of smaller startups that are more intuitive and problem-specific.

Regina Park

Photo: Flickr

Libyan
The United States declared it carried out a series of airstrikes on the Libyan city of Sirte, an ISIS stronghold, at the request of the Libyan government in August 2016.

The strikes came after nearly two years of concentrated efforts by the U.S. and Libyan governments to remove ISIS from Sirte; a strategically important city located directly between two of Libya’s largest cities, Benghazi and Tripoli.

The erasure of ISIS’s presence from Sirte means the city’s residents will be able to enjoy a higher standard of living, increased access to food and fuel and control of their incomes. Reclaiming the city from ISIS also means that healthcare in Libya will be one step closer to returning to pre-2011 standards.

Regaining control of Sirte will allow the Libyan government and certain NGOs, such as Doctors Without Borders, to begin safely providing much-needed healthcare services to the city’s residents.

Healthcare providers in Libya will be able to distribute resources across the country more evenly as they are needed, especially between Benghazi and Tripoli.

On a more significant level, overcoming the ISIS presence in Libya will remove one of the larger issues that the country has had to contend with during its rebuilding process, which has been ongoing since the country experienced a wave of revolutionary action during the Arab Spring in 2011.

Currently, the country lacks a central government as numerous opposing factions emerged after the fall of the Gaddafi regime.

A U.N.-backed entity known as the Government of National Accord recently made the most significant strides in uniting the country. They will undoubtedly find the task easier with ISIS’s removal.

A successfully unified government would likely see the return of a functioning and well-equipped healthcare system; something that the country has been sorely lacking since 2011.

According to Doctors Without Borders, many hospitals have been forced to close in recent years due to lack of funds, lack of staff members and concerns about security.

A fully functioning government would be able to solve the coordination problems currently preventing the distribution of funds and supplies.

They would be also able to effectively provide secure environments for hospitals and healthcare providers to safely operate.

More funds, supplies and increased security would allow for the return of foreign-born healthcare workers, many of whom left in the wake of 2011 upheaval.

Will Clifft

Photo: Flickr

Improving Education
Education is essential to achieving a higher quality of life. Many individuals in developing countries find it difficult to access quality education due to poverty, violent conflict and a myriad of other issues.

Global access to education may seem like a daunting problem, but there are numerous organizations you can support to increase a child’s access to education in the developing world.

The African Children’s Educational Trust (A-CET)

A-CET focuses on developing education in Ethiopia. It provides long-term scholarships to at-risk children that are funded by individual donations. The charity also works to improve and build schools within the country.

The BOMA Project

The BOMA Project is based in the U.S. and strives to better the lives of women in drought-prone areas. The organization gives grants to women within various communities as well as provides a two-year “poverty graduation program” which teaches these women how to run a small business.

By educating vulnerable women about business, the BOMA Project helps to create self-sustainable communities. The NGO is only operating in Kenya currently, but it hopes to expand its reach in the near future.

She’s the First

She’s the First is another organization focused on impoverished women within developing countries. The NGO provides girls throughout the world with the resources and connections essential to a quality education and future.

UNICEF

UNICEF is a well-known UN program dedicated to providing aid to developing countries. Access to education in these countries is among the numerous humanitarian issues UNICEF aims to address through collaboration with governments and NGOs.

Save the Children

Save the Children was originally founded in London in 1919 to address hunger caused by World War I. Today, the organization fights for vulnerable children throughout the world. Through teacher training and empowering parents and their children, Save the Children helps improve the quality of education in developing countries.

All of these organizations strive to increase education in the developing world. While some work on a smaller level, they are all making a difference. Donating or even volunteering for these and similar organizations are just a few ways you can help a child in need access a quality education and escape the cycle of poverty.

Saroja Koneru

Photo: Flickr